Newspaper article International New York Times

Little Time Left for Blockbuster Player Deals

Newspaper article International New York Times

Little Time Left for Blockbuster Player Deals

Article excerpt

The stars and the teams that want them have one week to get through the medical examinations and tie up the fine points of salaries and payments.

These are the last days of summer trading in Europe, and still there are clubs willing to throw a hundred million dollars or more to get a single player.

Angel di Maria, the flying Argentine winger, was reportedly on his way from Real Madrid to Manchester United. Mario Balotelli, the brilliant but volatile Italian, was headed from A.C. Milan to Liverpool.

The stars and the teams that want them have one week to get through the medical examinations and tie up the fine points of salaries and payments between the buying and selling clubs.

Only then, with the season already up and running, will these coveted individuals start playing catch-up. There will be new colleagues, new environments, new demands, new expectations and new managers -- all of whom are trying to gain an edge by hiring the players they think can make the difference with their team philosophy.

At the last count, a billion dollars or so has changed hands so far in the summer trading window. For di Maria, it has been a complicated affair these past few months. He helped Real Madrid win the Champions League, then was injured at the World Cup. By the time he returned to training at Real Madrid, the club had already recruited Germany's playmaker, Toni Kroos, and Colombia's bright new striker, James Rodriguez, who both play his area of the field.

Madrid's line is that di Maria asked to leave, and the club wouldn't stand in the way of a reluctant player.

Diego Costa has already departed the Spanish capital, going from Atletico Madrid to Chelsea. Diego Costa, the Brazilian who changed allegiance to represent Spain at the World Cup, has benefited from the one precious thing that humans need in life: time.

Diego Costa shares the same business agent as Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho. Mourinho, who was not involved in the World Cup, did his business early in the transfer window. He moved old players out, recruited what he wanted, and in particular began working to integrate Diego Costa as his main striker.

The result is that Diego Costa has scored in each of Chelsea's games this season, both wins. Goals define strikers, and with his strength and height and relish for physical contact, he already looks to be the finisher that Chelsea lacked last season.

Mourinho has changed other parts of the lineup, but striker was the problem for the Blues last season. Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba have departed, while Fernando Torres is still there, but struggling even to make the bench. And Didier Drogba is back, older, wiser and ready to bide his time on the bench until he can again play for the team.

But this isn't a Chelsea story, other than extolling its virtues in identifying the targets they wanted to buy and then having the acumen, money and contacts to get the deals done. …

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